Wellington, Mar. 20 (ANI): Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke has dedicated his 14th Test century to ex-fiancée Lara Bingle, as also to his family, friends, team mates.
"Without her (Lara) and her support, I certainly wouldn't have been back over here. It's a very special feeling any time you make a hundred, but it's been a tough couple of weeks. To my family and friends that have supported me and Lara, I thank them very much," Clarke said.
Clarke required 30 torturous minutes to get off the mark, struggling for fluency and timing after the most tumultuous period of his career and life.
The benefits of persistence were reaped in the final session of play.
Clarke's second 50 came in a blaze of 39 deliveries - highlighted by a series of forceful strokes square of the wicket against a tiring New Zealand attack - to seal the most emotional of his 14 Test centuries.
Clearly elated and in no small way relieved, Clarke raised his bat in triumph and kissed the coat-of-arms on his helmet.
Not since 2008, when he scored a century in Antigua after missing the preceding Test to attend the funeral of Bingle's father, has the Australian vice-captain displayed such overt emotion upon the completion of a century.
Clarke and North (52 not out) combined for a 140-run stand to rescue the tourists from a potentially precarious 4-176. Captain Ricky Ponting was hitting the ball like a dream until Simon Katich (79) ran him out, while Phillip Hughes' eleventh hour inclusion for the injured Shane Watson did little for his composure. He lasted just 24 deliveries, thrashing his way to 20.
Clarke thanked the Kiwi players for refraining from sledging him about his personal travails.
"The New Zealand guys were very respectful. There wasn't one word said about what has happened in the past two weeks. They obviously played very hard as they always do, and very competitive, but the crowd and the NZ guys were fantastic," he said. (ANI)